Theme park injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that a wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of a 52-year-old woman who fell to her death while riding the Texas Giant at a Six Flags theme park. The theme park, Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, will reopen the rollercoaster this weekend, the second weekend in September 2013.
The Texas Giant will reopen with additional safety measures nearly two months after Rosa Esparza died on the ride and a few days after her family filed the wrongful death suit. Esparza was riding in the roller coater’s third row in mid-July this year when she was ejected from her seat, falling about 75 feet.
Her family states that they saw her being ejected, desperately trying to hold on to the cart as the ride twisted and turned, ultimately falling. Her daughter and son-in-law were forced to complete the ride after seeing their mother fall, not knowing whether she was alive or dead. Her autopsy confirms she died from multiple traumatic injuries from the 75-foot drop.
In their lawsuit the family alleges that Six Flags has known for at least 35 years that it needed to implant seat belts in its more thrilling rides. In 1978 a patron died after falling from a Six Flags roller coaster in Los Angeles.
When the Texas Giant reopens this weekend it will have new features, such as overlapping, redesigned restraint pads and new seat belts. The company confirms, however, that not every patron will be able to fit into the restraint systems; as a result, it will now provide a sample coaster seat at the ride’s entrance so gusts can test it out themselves.
We recently reported that more than 4,400 children under the age of 17 are injured every year on amusement park rides such as the Texas Giant. According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, during the peak season (between May and September), about 20 children per day are hurt on a ride. Fortunately, the majority of injuries are relatively minor, though about 28% occur on roller coasters.
This data reveals that injuries do not only occur on big, titillating rides but in all types of rides in varying locations, such as in malls. Some assert that more regulation is needed to protect parents and children, others point simply to better education and transparency. It may surprise some to know that there is no federal regulation of theme parks, and Esparza’s family hopes their lawsuit leads to increased oversight and liability for Six Flags.
After deaths like Esparza’s occur at theme parks large-scale investigations are launched to determine what exactly led to the fatal accident. In this case, investigators examined the design and maintenance of the ride itself, spoke operations employees, and gathered accounts from eyewitnesses about details such as the rider’s posture and size.
Meanwhile, the exact cause of Esparza’s death remains unknown, as
Six Flags Over Texas is not publically releasing information on its investigation
in light of the lawsuit. The manufacturer of the roller coaster, a German
mechanical company, also conducted its own investigation. Critics say
that baby strollers are subject to more federal regulations than roller
coasters, and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs to step in.
Those in the amusement park industry say that state regulation is the most effective and efficient way to deal with ride safety. They point to several safety measures amusement park patrons can all take themselves while going on rides, such as ensuing the restraints fit snugly near your waistline and above the top of your thighs, and not being afraid to ask operators questions.
Amusement park injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on Esparza’s case as it unfolds. If you or a loved one was seriously injured on a theme park ride, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your hospital bills and emotional distress, and should contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible for a free legal evaluation.